Winter Classic 2015 could be delayed thanks to sun glare
The 2015 Winter Classic in Washington, D.C. could see the same fate as the 2012 Winter Classic in Philadelphia: a two hour delay due to sun glare.
The NHL doesn’t want to delay the start of the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, but they might have to do just that. Why, exactly? Not due to warm weather or too much snow, but due to the sun. The bright, vivid Washington, D.C. sun.
This was exactly the case in 2012, when Philadelphia hosted the Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park, and the start of the game was pushed back to 3 p.m. from its original 1 p.m. start time. This time, in 2015, another baseball stadium is facing the exact same issue in DC.
— Second City Hockey (@2ndCityHockey) December 31, 2014
It’s 2:30, do you know where your sun is? pic.twitter.com/lPjB2FNtS9
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) December 31, 2014
Delaying the game from 1 p.m. to 2:30 or 3 p.m. will likely do the trick, but the NHL doesn’t want to do that for lots of reasons. Chief among those reasons this year is the competition elsewhere on the New Years Day sports schedule, which this year includes two College Football Playoff games.
If the Winter Classic starts at 1 p.m. as scheduled, it’ll be over long before the Rose Bowl kicks off at 5 p.m. ET, and thus the NHL will free themselves of any competition elsewhere on the TV dial. But a 3 p.m. start time would push the Winter Classic past 5 p.m., and hockey will definitely lose some eyeballs to football once that happens. A 2:30 p.m. puck drop would cut it really close — perhaps close enough that the majority of the audience would stick with the end of the hockey game over the beginning of the football game.
The Winter Classic and the Stanley Cup Playoffs are realistically the only appointment viewing that the NHL has when it comes to the national sports conversation in the United States. This outdoor game is a cash cow for the league and it’s one of the few times it has the attention of the casual sports fan, so playing it while there’s no real competition from other major sporting events is a big deal to the NHL.
On New Years Day it will all come down to cloud cover, which of course can change at any given time. In the event that the glare is on the ice but the surface is playable, players will be allowed to wear sunglasses to help with visibility. But if there’s too much glare, the league will have no choice but to push the start time back, be it an hour, 90 minutes, or two hours.